Opening a Thai bank account

May 27th, 2010

May a foreign citizen open a bank account in Thailand?

The answer is of course yes, or more accurately yes, but…

As a matter of fact the issue of the opening of a bank account by a foreign non-resident is one of the most confusing issues for foreigners in Thailand because there is a huge discreptancy between the theory and the practice.

If you are living and working in Thailand and even coming here as a tourist you will be, as explained above, in theory entitled  to open and maintain a Thai Baht or a foreign currency account.

Note: If you have problem to open a bank account on your own, we can assist you with this matter. Just contact us through the contact form

The number and the type of documents that you will be requested to provide in order to get going will depend of your status.

In general there will be fewer documents to provide if you are working or living in Thailand permanently and more if you are only a tourist.

For example below are the documents requirements of Bangkok Bank:

Note: I’m using as a model Bangkok Bank documents requirements because they were the first I found on the net not to promote Bangkok Bank over other Thai banks.

Note: Other banks might have other requirements.

You are working in Thailand

Passport and work permit No other requirements
You are living in Thailand permanently Passport, orcertificate of residence, oralien certificate and house registration. No other requirements
You are living in Thailand temporarily or you are a tourist, Passport and the following required documents: A letter of recommendation from a person acceptable to Bangkok Bank (Bangkok Bank staff or customer of Bangkok Bank; a university teacher, a company director or senior executive). Letter of recommendation must be prepared on Bangkok Bank’s letter of recommendation form. To the Letter must be attached  the person’s a certified true copy of identification document e.g. ID card or government official ID card; or
A letter of recommendation from a reputable organization located in Thailand such as an embassy or an international organization; or
A letter of recommendation from your bank abroad, acceptable to Bangkok Bank, sent to Bangkok Bank via SWIFT; or
Your driving license containing your photo

Now, the bank documents requirements do not seems excessively complicated even if you are a tourist.

Note: Above are the documents requirements of Bangkok Bank. Other banks may have other requirements.

Is there a catch?

The catch is that theory is one thing and practice another.

I mean by this that many foreigners have seen their  request for the opening of a bank account refused by one bank or another despite having provided all the documents required by said bank.

Even worth, there are major discrepancies in the foreign account opening practice not only:

(i) between banks themselves but also,

(ii) between a same bank branches, and

(iii) even sometimes within a branch depending which employees you are dealing with.

In other words, yes you can open a bank account, but it is like the “Quest for the Holy Grail” you might have to go through several trails (several bank or bank branches) before you fulfill your quest (open your bank account).

Minimum Deposit

You only need to deposit 500 THB to open a Thai Baht Saving Account. To open a foreign currency account the minimum deposit will be between 5,000 to 10,000 USD and you will generally be requested to do the first deposit by wire transfer.

May you obtain a debit and/or credit card

Upon opening a bank THB saving account in Thailand you will immediately receive an ATM/ bank debit card allowing you to deposit and withdraw funds at the ATM.

Bank credit cards are in general only issued to foreign applicants that hold Non Immigrant Visas and work permits and have a history and proof of income.

Banks and/or card issuers will generally request that the applicant has been working between 3 to 6 months with the same employer before to apply for a credit card.

Note: This post is an excerpt of Rene Philippe Dubout next book: “How to Invest Safely Into Thailand” to be published in January 2010

About the Author:

The author Rene-Philippe DUBOUT is a lawyer since 1990 when he was admitted to Geneva bar (Switzerland). He practiced as a litigator there for 10 years until he moved to Thailand in 1999. In 2002 he founded with a group of Thai lawyers Rene Philippe & Partners Ltd a local law firm that specialized in Cross Borders Investments and Real Estate. He has been lecturing in several Thai Universities and a speaker to numerous conferences and seminars. He is the author of a must read book:”How to Purchase Real Estate Offshore Safely: The Case of Thailand”.



2 Responses to “Opening a Thai bank account”

tariq malik | October 8, 2010

hi thans for the info very helpfl.

i am a pakistani national and would like to open a bank account in bangkok.

i will be a tourist .is my passport and bank reference letter from my countyr sufficient along with business card and letterhead?

i want to buy apartments in bangkok then rent them out for a source of income am i allowed to do this?

i wont require any loan at all.

eventually what would be the procedure if i want to reside there and my kids want to go school there?

many thanks

looking forward to ur response

mr malik

doctor | October 9, 2010

Here is link to answer re opening bank account.

Yes, you can buy and rent out apartments and suggest you choose a condo which has foreign freehold which means it is registered in your name and can be sold on to another with few complications and cheaper. Suggest you look up our agent in Bangkok when you are coming his name is Khun Aek and here is his email, he will be pleased to show you some condos to buy.

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